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Egypt to enhance food security with IFAD Us$71 million loan and grant

Egypt and the Int'l Fund for Agricultural Development signed an agreement for a US$70 million loan & a $1 million grant.

The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, will meet the Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mohammed Reda Ismail, this week in Cairo to discuss the country's agriculture development, which is critical for employment generation, food security and reduction of poverty.

Egypt is one of the largest recipients of IFAD assistance in the region where the United Nations agency specialized in rural development works. With its projects, IFAD supports smallholder farmers to leverage the country's comparative advantage in the production and export of high value horticulture and livestock products, herbs and medicinal plants.

Earlier this month, the government of Egypt and IFAD signed an agreement for a US$70 million loan and a $1 million grant for the Promotion of Rural Incomes through the Market Enhancement Project to help reduce rural poverty and enhance food security. The new project will build the capacity of smallholder farmers to access markets and create opportunities to improve their livelihoods as rural producers.

Limited access to finance remains a key constraint for the development of rural economies. Most smallholder farmers need financing to purchase high-cost inputs, such as fertilizer and animal feed, for horticulture crops and livestock production.

The project will integrate about 50,000 rural households belonging to 500 farmer groups into the agriculture value chain to increase their incomes. It will include smallholder-farmer households, as well as landless labourers, unemployed youth, small and medium-sized enterprises and women, who will constitute 30 per cent of the total beneficiaries. The project will cover the seven governorates of Assiut, Beni Suef, Menia, Qena, Sohag, (Upper Egypt) and Beheira and Kafr-el-Sheikh (Lower Egypt).

With this new programme, IFAD will have financed 11 projects with loans totalling $337 million and grants worth $3 million, benefitting some 1.3 million households.

While in the country, the President of IFAD will also address the BioVision 2012 conference that is currently taking place in Alexandria. He will call for increased investments in agricultural research at the conference, which will be attended by representatives from science, industry and civil society.

"At IFAD we know there is a direct and strong link between research and the elimination of poverty and hunger," Nwanze said before his departure. "But research needs to come with an application. In order for it to move from the lab to the field, it needs to respond to the local environment and it must be supported by enabling policies that link research to products and markets."